What is Yoga Nidra?

By Julie Crantz, Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra® Teacher and Reiki Master


Have you ever experienced levels of stress where your health began to suffer? Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Have you ever had a question on your mind that you couldn’t seem to figure out the answer to? Have you ever wanted to begin a meditation practice yet didn’t know where to begin?


The practice of Yoga Nidra will help you with all of these questions, and much more.  With full confidence, I tell you this, not only as a teacher, but as a student of Yoga Nidra. Back In 2013, I suffered a traumatic loss. My beloved Mother passed away from ALS, only 30 days after her diagnosis. The stress wreaked havoc on my body. I went months without sleep. I wondered what was the meaning of life and how do I go on? I was lost not knowing where to turn. And then, a dear friend invited me to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health for a weekend trip. At Kripalu, I was introduced to Yoga Nidra. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that weekend changed my life forever. Little by little, I began practicing Yoga Nidra. In this practice, I learned of a way I could meditate and not only experience the rest I so desperately needed, but also allow my body, mind, and soul to begin a deep healing process.


Yoga Nidra is a meditative form of yoga otherwise known as yogic sleep. The definition of Nidra is sleep and this is pronounced as a short sounding “ni” as in knit.  When practicing Yoga Nidra, a participant enters one of the deepest states of relaxation possible while maintaining full consciousness. It is in this state between sleep and wakefulness where the body experiences deep healing and rejuvenating rest.

Sometimes we may find ourselves stuck in the stress response. This can be due to exposure to a long-term stressor or a sudden traumatic event. This is extremely taxing to the body, and can have detrimental long term effects on our physical and psychological health. Yoga Nidra helps us to elicit the relaxation response and turn off “fight or flight”, or the stress response we can find ourselves in during our daily lives. When we enter the relaxation response, this allows our body to access its own natural healing state, creating equilibrium and balance.  Thirty minutes of Yoga Nidra practice is equivalent to about two hours of regular sleep.


Some of the many benefits of a regular Yoga Nidra practice include:


  • Strengthens the mind and our ability to focus
  • Is grounding
  • Brings a sense of clarity and peace
  • Leads to creativity and more energy
  • Is proven to influence metabolic processes in the body, reducing high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression
  • Helps to improve or alleviate ailments such as PTSD, heart disease, chronic pain, digestive conditions, and many others
  • Is an aid to insomnia
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Helps to develop compassion for ourselves and others
  • Brings about emotional and mental stability
  • Is heart opening, soothing, and cultivates self-compassion


During a Yoga Nidra class, you are guided on a journey of healing at every level of your being, including your physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and spiritual layers, or the five koshas. You are invited to bring awareness to each layer without the need to make any changes or fix anything. You will set an intention or Sankalpa at the beginning of practice, which is a positive statement or affirmation that is planted as a seed in the mind. During and after practice, the Sankalpa will grow and blossom into a heartfelt and lasting, constructive change at the core of your being. We practice Yoga Nidra in Savasana posture or in a seated position, and there is nothing to do but to notice, listen, and breathe.


I welcome you to join me in the practice of Yoga Nidra at Central Mass Yoga on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 am. This is a powerful practice of self-transformation and connection, in which you will experience deeper levels of inner peace and well-being than you ever imagined possible.


Peace, love, and light,